tv American Navys Role in Revolutionary war CSPAN September 13, 2014 5:05pm-6:01pm EDT
.org for more information on this year's contest. >> on sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern here on american history tv, we will take you live to fort mchenry in baltimore for a ceremony to member rating the 200th anniversary of the --ar-spangled and are "star-spangled banner." the moment inspired key to compose what would later become the u.s. national anthem. >> thank you very much, jennifer, and to the volunteers.
it is always an honor to be here, not just for the history of this wonderful establishment, but for the people who devote so much of their efforts and time to work here. as always, i'm happy to be here to get a chance to talk about something near and dear to my heart, the continental navy. we were here in june, to be honored with the, door -- the , itodore barry award occurred to me that if a book on commodore barry could win the commodore barry award, we were in the throes of finishing "give me a fast ship," and i suggested a couple of different titles. he turned down were "the naval correspondence of joseph alyssa -- joseph
pulitzer," "the naval ordinance of our for it no bell, and my personal favorite being a baseball fan, "cy young, sailor." mythe summer of 1959, father, to placate my mother, abandoned new jersey and all of my mother's in-laws for two weeks. there was no boardwalk. there were no amusement rides to speak of, no playing with lifelong friends -- lifelong reading about three years -- and no late-night sound from roller coasters and jukeboxes echoing over the houses. the perfect lullaby to put in eight ural to sleep -- an eight-year old to sleep. there was the ocean, the beach, and its rulers, the flies. inside, there was a bookshelf crammed with naval history including a biography of john paul jones.
he became the first-ever grown-up book i ever read. months later, my other offered to take me to the neighborhood theatre to see a double feature of "darby o gill and the little ."ople" and " john paul jones my father got a particular kick asked him to take me to see a movie called "the levels disciple -- "the devil's to discover it was satire on the american revolution. when my mother learned that her favorite actress bette davis was playing catherine the great, that meant she and mike two younger brothers came along. oh, well. it was a friday night. the theater was crammed with loud teenagers. won his great
victory, my dad stood up and said, "let's get out of here." to the this was due unruly crowd or his lack of enthusiasm for bette davis, i never learned, but my mother did not talk to him for days, and i don't want to think about what kind of breakfast we would have had if the film had been "whatever happened to baby jane." years later, i bought my mother a vcr tape, but all that did was beingte her pique at forced to abandon ms. davis in her time of need. despite the family psychodrama, i fell in love with stories about the continental navy, which is why you and i are here tonight. how many of you are our sailors? i know you are. or fisherman or surfers. you know how easy it is to fall in love with beginning on the water. the continental navy story is not just about ships, and it is
not just about dates and battles . it is a story about politicians, officers,s, sailors, some very brave, many with ends, and's -- tragic a few buffoons. it's about wives and lovers, and like all narratives from the first part of our collective story, it's about slaves. while we cannot tell all of this remarkable but rarely told saga tonight, i would like to share with you what i learned about these extraordinary men and women. by the 1770's, the economy of britain's american colonies was so dependent on the maritime that every times bit -- everyman's business, be he first rate or, furniture maker, factory owner, plantation squire, or employee, in digits servant, or slave, the food one put on the table was in a large part due to the sea.
the atlantic ocean, the caribbean sea, and the bodies of water that cloaked western europe were the major highways of business, so when the colonies began openly defying the british government over taxes on goods, levies on shipping, and stamps on common to, it was find sailors ashore among the protesting crowds. in 1773, while the indians of the boston tea party included silversmiths, physicians, lawyers, merchants, shopkeepers, there were quite a few sailors among them. although it was a blacksmith's apprentice, joshua wyatt, whose descendents would include three generations of distinguished americans, who had the best line about the affair, something about making so large a cup of tea for the fishes. flash forward to april 21, 1775. , the top captain for
the most successful merchant firm in philadelphia was coming up to philadelphia on the finest yet built a american ship, returning from her maiden voyage to england. meanwhile, at the city tavern, the st. george's society for the assistance of englishmen in clubsss -- we do not have with such catchy names anymore -- were having their annual st. george's day feast upstairs. toasting tos was the health of king george iii. while other spilled their glasses and upended their chairs in their rush to spread the news, morris alone raised his glass, toasted the colonial cause, and then stepped out into the uncertain future. the next day, under what barry noted as fine, clear, sunshine reather, the black trench nestledo against the dock to ab scenee of total pandemonium. one onlooker describedr a river -- one with ships
onlooker described a river covered with ships. they pleaded with colleagues to give them space for their goods. dock hands jostle each other into the water going up and down the gang plank. cargo was not loaded, it was tossed. the merchants had been at the forefront of resistance to crown policy, declaring they would fight for their rights. now, upon learning that their fellow colonists of massachusetts had done just that, they hoped for just one more killing in the english marketplace before the real killing came up to delaware. 's ship was returned to sea without properly being refitted. the idea of an american navy was the brainchild of john adams, down the street in congress. outside of successfully defending several yankee sailors for slaying a royal navy officer
whose crime was attempted to add their names to the kings muster rolls, adams had no maritime experience at all. he had only been out to see once in his life, a 15-mile fishing trip off the coast of massachusetts. but he had left his wife and children at their farm outside of boston, where they could see at bombardment and attack bunker and brood cells, and he was receiving regular reports of boston, notaround from the boston papers, but from the mother of his children. when a british man-of-war anchored nearby occurred in town, as abigail adams put it, and they were all up on night. hem may to october of 1775, argued for such a force. the first battle of the continental navy was fought in a room of what is now independence
hall, 40 feet long, 38 feet wide , about 1/3 the link of a forget and slightly wider than her beam. adams' most christopher's foe was opposing memo litter, samuel chase, a lawyer with a vicious ferous -- adams' most voci foe. to him, a navy was the maddest idea in the world. the enemy helped adams' caused just by being the enemy. the british navy began shelling doing when towns while the royal governor of virginia lord dunmore used a british frigate and his home of exile. freedom for all virginia slaves of patriot owners if they would join his ethiopian regiment and emancipation proclamation predating lincolns by fourscore and eight years -- predating
lincoln's. even chase saw the navy as a necessity, and on october 13, the continental navy was born. while congress purchased merchant men to convert into warships and adams drafted the articles of war for the new navy loss officers and sailors, stephen hopkins of rhode island cherry picked four of the first five captain sees out for his family and knowing when contacts, including his brother, who became the first and only commander-in-chief of an american navy. serving ascalled his midwife to the new label force the pleasantest part of his service to congress. franklin was specifically ordered by congress that once he arrived in france, he was too, as they put it, let old england
see how they liked to have an active enemy at their own door. for most of the war, franklin did just that, handing out commissions to american mariners, giving orders to cruise the british coast lines, capture or destroy british shipping, drive up british insurance rates, and spread a level of fear along the british coast that had not been seen since the spanish armada. to counter franklin's efforts in france, we have arthur lee, that are born and educated than franklin. he was both a doctor and a lawyer. -- better born and educated than franklin. he treated people beneath him, which to him meant just about everyone, with disdain, including navy captains who gladly took franklin haas public orders and private suggestions. these machinations against these officers, both during and after the war, seemed petty at best or downright ugly at worst. congress soon appropriated
$870,000 to build 13 frigates with construction commencing from portsmouth to baltimore. funding was locally short when an epidemic of inflation later set in. congress found itself appropriating $1 million just to refit and repair one frigate. these were drafted by shipwrights like the hackett brothers and joshua humphreys, a philadelphia quaker who was disowned for his military efforts. these men came up with handsome designs and intuitive methods of construction, but to judge the ships' progress, one need not look to receipts for the delivery of timber, iron, rope, and canvas. check the weight book injuries for rum. one truncheon delivered on a monday and not reordered for a week men that work was slow. for delivered on a monday followed by four more on wednesday -- that meant there
was progress. once at sea, the frigates were beautiful to behold in the nba of european experts who beheld them as they approach the ofbors -- and the envy european experts. naval seamen were offered a whopping eight dollars a month to sign the muster rolls. landsman received much less. even today, few jobs are more dangerous than being a sailor, but in the 18th century, a was similar to that of a modern-day fireman. hours of boredom, punctuated by death-defying acts of current, necessary to survive. living before the mast, a sailor was exposed to the elements during his watch. now, he was also introduced to a .ew hazard -- combat in an effort to stand against the expertly trained gunners of the british navy, the greatest war machine yet will by mankind,
continental officers drilled their sailors incessantly at their guns. the goal was to match that of a british gun crew and complete the 11-step process in under two minutes, but because they lacked a gun powder and shot, the americans had to shadowbox, pantomiming their moves until the last round when they might actually fire a cannonball. a tavern in philadelphia gave birth to the marine corps. the second in command for the marines being recruited for the mother ran a tavern. the family of the commander of the marines, captain samuel nicholas, owned the conestoga tavern in philadelphia. coincidence? you marines in the audience can judge, but these men distinguished themselves battle after battle, and it was a marine, william hamilton, who tenuously crossed the foot ropes with a basket of grenades and
turned the tide of battle for john paul jones. many continental sailors were experienced, but quite a few joined out of patriotism or for the adventure of it. they certainly did not join for the money. congress, thinking sailors and ignorant lot, boasted that they offered sailors more than the royal navy did. what they did not tell sailors was that their shares went into effect after congress claimed while theroceeds king's mariners got their shares based on 100% of the money. sailors might not have been as educated as politicians, but they knew how to add, and they saw who was subtracting. throughout the war, congress bemoaned how privateers, armed merchantmen, allowed to seize british ships and keep the money
from all sales, took the lion's share of available sailors, who quickly saw they would make better money by not serving in the navy. many congressmen invested in privateers themselves. the term "conflict of interest" must not have been invented yet. in one letter to a colleague, robert morris bewailed privateering in one paragraph only to mention he was investing in a privateer in the next. it is estimated that black sailors comprised as much as 10% of the navy's muster rolls throughout the war. quite a few were slaves. -- bought by john berry bought by john barry was put in battle. barry was no sooner are sure that he sold the men. the slave, whose name is unknown, appealed to the pennsylvania committee of safety for the money he believed he had earned in combat. he was not looking to spend it
in taverns or brothels. what he wanted to purchase was his freedom. after fighting against the british with the same degree of courage the rest of the crew displayed, would the committee intervene on his behalf? they could not and would not. how list slaves, including those owned by congressman, soft action at sea on congress -- countless slaves including those owned by congressman saw action on continental ships. many jump ship once they reached port. their captains called the act desertion. their owners called it running off. the slaves called it treason. one african-american who personified both devotion to duty and true resilience was a free black teenager who signed on a privateer to provide an income for his widowed mother. his ship was captured by a british frigate whose captain, that james could
him under his wing. he was offered the choice of joining the royal may, returning to england with captain's family, or to be transferred with the other prisoners a few miles from here to the prison ship jersey on the east river. the andersonville of the revolution. he chose the jersey. he survived the war and returned to a mariner's life, invented a new system of rigging used throughout the age of sail, and became a prominent philadelphia merchant and abolitionist. germanssler was a cabinet maker's son, apprenticed to a brewmaster, when he joined up with john barry, then commanding a privateer. once the boy got his sea legs, barry took a liking to him. he rose to captain of marines. later, he was captured new jamaica, and after escaping, found himself aboard a ship down for new england.
in rags and starving, he made his way to boston where he found the continental frigate alliance preparing for a voyage to france and in desperate need of hands, climbing up the gang plank, he was warmly greeted by the astain, john barry, who was glad to see kessler as kessler was to see him. they served together for the rest of the war. just one year after the navy's or us, the shortage of manpower captainsressing that signed on castoffs, invalids, jailbirds, and even british prisoners, often using them as marines -- one just one year after the navy's birth. many warned to keep an eye out for treachery and frequent founder. the navy's muster rolls often included foreigners as well. frenchmen, scandinavians, and the closest foreigners as far as the government was concerned, native americans.
on one voyage, and american indian sailor learned of a plot aboard a british ship by british hands to kill the crew, the captain, and all officers save one, who would navigate them home. of theling his captain plan saved many lives and resulted in the ringleaders being flawed mercilessly while being hung by their thumbs until --y named their compresses they're a complex and. other foreign-born hands johnded two shipmates -- jordan, listed as wailing from west bengal, actually east india, and a 12-year-old cabin , whose name the officer shortened to joseph brussels, an act of american americanizing a foreign name 100 years before ellis island made that a habit. both sailors lost a limb -- jordan, a leg, brussels, an arm.
despite the risks of battle and the elements and they're rarely being paid by congress, continental sailors showed kurds, endurance, and humor. in the late days of 1777, the frigate randolph under nicholas biddle, sailed into charleston harbor. the cheers were barely out of the throats of south carolinians 's men were surprisingly paid their shares. their subsequent celebration became the stuff of legend. dressed in the latest finery, they were seen at all hours along the charleston waterfront, newspapers reporting they were escorting females ridiculously ornamented with jewelry. their services rendered, we can only imagine. bought a horse only to prove as an equestrian he was a hell of a sailor.
later authorities found him to a drunk, carrying his saddle and bridle. slurring his words, he explained he had lost his ship but saved his rigging. 's list ofental navy captains includes few well-known names, but each one possessed his own unique approach to management and personality quirks. they were all skilled mariners, and they were all brave. the luck of jonah. dislike eachnders other so much that their story reads like a seagoing "on couple -- "odd couple." there were incredibly brave but starcrossed leaders, escaping from a ship of the line by sawing through support beams, allowing the reprisal to sell
and not or two faster and escape her pursuer -- allowing the reprisal to sail a knot or two faster. nicholas biddle went on an exploration to the north pole with horatio nelson is a shipmate. courage was a second nature to him as breathing. "i fear nothing but what i ought matter-of-factly penned to his brother. a dashing young ladies man with an uncanny sense of when and whom to fight, he would have ,ikely eclipsed jones and barry but for one tragic, unforeseen split second. the navy's official top captain was the overbearing james nicholson, an experienced brother -- an experienced mariner with two brothers also serving in the navy. nicholson whined to congress for more money, more supplies, and more men. he sent press gangs along the docks and incurring the wrath of
the townsfolk and the governor of maryland, and he refused to a.nture out to se he was given the nickname the common or snug in the harbor. the he finally put to sea day before april fools' day 1778, he encountered a series of catastrophes even the marx brothers could not have pulled off, but for all of his tendencies, he would later fight one of the fiercest battles against the british. frenchman, a deadly duelist, whose command style is both insulting and annette, as if the deadly marquee in the novel "sc aramouche" is his clone -- both insulting and in tept. if there was a sailors captain among the lot, it was john barry
, who still had to face down when mutiny by british prisoners, one by unpaid american cars, and an official one by his own officers, but on the whole, his men liked and respected him. one officer wrote how the innocent mirth of the semen-- of the seamen was his delight and good humor would allow him to be the subject of the job. -- the joke. the crew -- on one instance, he let aard the line, and long silence before breaking into laughter himself. captain mixed a burglar nerve with his warrior skills -- one intrepid captain.
he had been a lieutenant and hopkins squadron. years later during a cruise of several continental ships, the squadron found themselves close to the jamaica fleet. dozens of british merchant and being let across the atlantic by british ships of the line and frigate. spread outhips have across the ocean. wrath burn sailed right amongst them, getting close enough to , discussantman conditions in time of day, and invite the man across the water for t or something stronger. and wereguests arrived made prisoner, he sent a prize crew to the cap digit and cut her out of the fleet, discreetly setting the prize back to boston. how easy captains saw this was an joined in the fun. surprise realized the crews had produced their manpower to risky numbers, the americans made a quiet retreat. and goodsf the prizes
in 1778 currency came to an unbelievable million dollars. -- the scotsman was a peerless mariner. he saved one to get by sinking in a brutal storm by cutting off her masts and anchoring her to keep from foundering. missionary.e he was his own press agent, even writing poetry about his own deeds. againstnitial successes the british in the western hemisphere were breathtaking, but he is better known for phlegm borough head off scotland, his earlier rate of whitehaven scotland, to burn british ships import -- the only burned 1 -- and an attempt to for exchange of american prisoners, only to find his crew of kidnappers cowed by the absent men's very pregnant wife.
on theted panic up and british coast and when a long way towards increasing antiwar sentiment in britain and in parliament. ,nd there is gustavus conyngham who captured or burned more british ships than jones and barry combined. crews to mending a small cutter, a fast chip favored by smugglers and about half the size of a get, and terrorizing the british isles. of all the american rebels, including washington and franklin, there was conyngham, whom king george wanted to see hang the most, and he almost got his wish. out hism carried activities while france was still neutral. xvi plusing louis government to publicly rail against the man england called a .iddle --dunkirk pirate conyngham did more to bring
france into the war than anyone with the possible exception of franklin. his daring attacks all around the british isles are forgotten now, but he truly was the real errol flynn. and there were the women who loved these men. flirted biddle shamelessly from nova scotia to philadelphia until elizabeth baker, the daughter of a charleston plantation owner, when his heart. they were engaged and plan a wedding. before his final voyage, biddle redrafted his will while making plans to marry her on his return. elizabeth did get married, 19 years after biddle's tragic end. was quite anes ladies man, literally having at least one girl in every port. smitten with the young african-born poetess, phyllis wheatley of boston, and even wrote a poem to her. john barry's second wife not
only dealt with her husband's absences, but the consequences of a family rent into by the war. some historians call the revolution our first civil war. they prove it. she was the sister of betsy ross. one of her flags flew at top jones's ship, but while her brother samuel marched with and other philadelphia sailors to march with washington, her older brother, william, was such a staunch loyalist, he was given responsibility by general william howe after the fall of philadelphia to see that departing patriots did not bring the city down. when the british left philadelphia, william went with them, not into exile, but to serve as a mate on one british ship and later command a 20-gun loyalist privateer during benedict arnold haase made on the chesapeake. william was captured at yorktown and never saw philadelphia again. it fell to young sarah, now
caring for her half-sister's eight children after the woman died in childbirth, who also have to fight for the return of the estate seized by the pennsylvania assembly for william's trees and. -- treason. was gustavus conyngham captured, he was sent to england to hang, weighted down with 55 pounds of chain. congress and raglan wrote letters protesting his treatment, but he was spared the news only after washington promised the british that six captured british officers would meet the same fate. certain that her beloved would be killed, his 24-year-old wife, the remarkable and hockley children tove her relatives and crossed the atlantic. if life aboard ship was difficult for sailors, imagine what she went through. seasick, unable to cross the deck except on a sailor's arm, her nausea returning again and again while she tried to sleep
on a pitching sea. once in france and in cycling, that she would stay until reunited with her husband, and had to be talked out of going to london to plead for her husband's life -- that is devotion and a special courage we can only admire. through the eight years of the revolution, the continental navy had 57 ships, but by the end of the war, there were only two -- john adams, so optimistic of the navy he created at war's onset, wrote at war's end, "it's very difficult to think of our navy without tears." a four if ite came recession. depression is a more accurate word, and as sailors and officers cheered in the streets and on that in the cabins, they now haunted the waterfront desperate for any kind of work. moved by their flight, a borrowed john barry $200 to buy their shares at a reduced rate just to give them
money to feed their families. when the bank called in the loans, barry asked his friend and partner general anthony wayne if he could loan him the money. but he did not have it either. young, widowed after her husband john, a friend of lost in the storm, petition congress for the half pay given officer would is, congress turned her down for naval officers were, as they put it, in a less severe service and in a situation of realizing substantial prizes, meaning shares, which unfortunately neither john or joanna young .ver saw partisan politics began playing a part with these appeals. even if the petitioners had no political affiliations whatsoever, it only mattered who or what side presented the petition in congress. , amputees survivors
joseph brussels, john jordan, and another, james mcentee, appealed to congress for disability pension, congress did not deliberate so much as bigger -- bigger -- bicker. ensizable block of congressman opposed it, merely because morris supported it. finally, the imposing jordan hobbled in on crutches, personally appealing to congress' sense of decency. even with such a stirring appearance, their petition was only passed by three votes. congress finally appropriated funds to pay off jones' sailors in 1848. doesn't all this sound familiar? is thet thought
soldiers, sailors, marines, and their families of the american revolution set the bar for the duty to sacrifice for succeeding generations of americans, so, too, did congress and the public set the example of support the areps as long as no taxes levied for the best weapons, decent wages, or to care for their widows and orphans. or as the press recently reported last week, even enough money for them to feed their loved ones. history still tries to teach us the same lessons. after the war, john kessler, barry's protege, did everything from run a grocery store to for trading with the newington indians before returning to philadelphia where he served as sheriff of northern liberties until his death in 1840. his descendents include the makers of the legendary ohio clock that has kept time for nearly 200 years in the united states senate.
it never stopped ticking until last year during the government shutdown. learning this, i wondered how kessler, james fortin, nicholas , alle, and ann conyngham those men and women who bore so much in times that not only tried men's souls but endanger their lives, would feel about the inability of 21st century donemericans to get things , find common ground, just as they did. i think they would tell us to shape up or ship out. thank you very much. [applause] thanks. any questions? yes, sir. >> [inaudible] 10% armed exactly? what were their duties? how many were freed after the
war? >> none of them really break down what was done, but most of them were certainly in a battle given arms. there's a wonderful book that was self published by a gentleman back in the 1970's where he breaks down the list of african americans who served in the revolution, and under the ships, there's quite a few lifted -- listed as gunners mates. no one is given and officers position, but they are given that obviouslys meant they were as involved in the survival of the ship and their shipmates as anyone else. i have not had a question before. that's a good question. >> [inaudible]
>> well, we kind of just talked practically every captain had a mutiny to face. jones had several. his reputation and everything else, jones was very disliked by his sailors. what i found funny, he's not too popular with too many naval historians, either. they called him silent john because he never said two words if one were due, and where meanwhile, jones, at the drop of the hat, if a vagrant at the street corner asked for ideas to help the navy, he would say wait a minute, and then bore them to death. >> [inaudible]
>> you mean how did king alfred do all this? he was dealing with the vikings. [laughter] being a smart alec. i just imagine he would have been the first marie antoinette if he had not done something with the viking raids. he literally decided, "well, we'll have our own fleet." he's the founder of the british navy. on johnd your biography barry. he was the first catholic to serve in a high position. was he ever discriminated against? >> he never was given any notification of it. there's letters and documents at the library of congress and the national archives, but he really never mentions anything at all
about being discriminated against. case ofit was a classic ability surmounting any prejudices. he was lucky when he was sent to the colonies that he came to philadelphia because there was much more anti-catholic fervor in the new england colonies then there was, and philadelphia was pretty much thought of as wide .pen minded when 100 irish immigrants show up at the docks, it looks as if ireland is going to send all its inhabitants hitter. i don't think it quite turned out that way. >> i would like people to know that the sons of the revolution annually gives an award at the u.s. merchant marine academy named after captain gustavus as mr. mcgrath
said exceeded all other captains in capturing prizes and probably enduring hardships during that time. i would also say that if anybody is thinking of buying or reading this book, do it. it's a wonderful book. >> thank you, sir. i'm always happy when my brother shows up. [laughter] i would like to point out one of the things i found so terrific. this is the first presentation we have made on this book. i think it's very appropriate to have it done here, not just because of the history of the place, but you will find gustavus conyngham if you visit st. peter's cemetery at third and lumbar, and a few feet away
thishim is a man for whom tavern is his establishment. what is interesting with mr. conyngham's graveside is i guess a poemily had engraved that begins with a g then u, s, and it's very old and quaint and everything else, but i must think about whoever tried to write it. you know, "what's a t word?" anyone else? >> didn't several states have their own navy? >> quite a few of the continental naval captains were already officers of those babies.
what was interesting with the continental navy with a getting started was again, it was new england and john adams, and he worked very hard to enlist for his representatives cause, but the southern members of congress got pretty suspicious for the first couple of years. the continental navy ships were pretty much in action from virginia up to halifax, and why are they not helping down here? one of the things that they start insisting on is that the ships fight and help protect the the southern states. the first fleet was actually supposed to go to virginia and gaugedbut they kind of that these guys are not ready
yet to have a pitched battle , and he comesnavy back with a little more gunpowder, quite a few cannons, and depending on what book you read, either raging for an aerial disease, or smallpox. diseasher raging venereal or smallpox. glasgow,in of the ironically, a fellow also named cunningham, goes to great links rightve that hopkins is and the sailors are not ready yet to fight the british navy. yes, sir. >> can you expand a little bit on william hamilton? >> sure. the battle is well documented by both sides.
you say that, you are being flip, but this was kill or be killed for hours. at one point, this battle, the two ships are lashed together, which he jones does, and his ship is sinking, and at one point, one of his sailors says, "we are going to drown." that they'll float and be fine. .amilton is one of the marines he walks the foot ropes -- if you have ever seen a wooden ship with the sale set, you will see the lines that these guys are crossing, holding on to the spar and walking with their feet across these very thin ropes, and the ships were so close that the masks were almost interconnected. mr. hamilton takes a bag of
, and goes over and from there he can look down the hatch and starts throwing these grenades down the hatch and blowing things up. at that point, captain pearson -- coincidently, for you movie buffs, if you ever watch the old " dunkirk pirate -- if you ever watch the old "john paul jones," darth maul'sshing, boss. even at that point, he realize this is crazy. he looked at jones as the american sailors did and said, "this guy is going to kill all of us." very much so. >> [inaudible] did the american's sort of hold their own? you said they were down to two ships?
>> they pretty much tried to -- they were never strong enough to go fleet to fleet. they would engage in smaller battles, maybe two or three ships against each other. one of my favorites -- we talked about the odd couple of manley and mcneil. earlier in that cruise, they run shipsome superior british , and mcneil writes that he save manley's bacon, and manley, who does not like mcneil, says come over to dinner. i will treat you to dinner on my ship. i think it's the very next day, they encounter a fight with british at the fox, and it is pretty much being won by manley, and mcneil is holding back, but once he sees it's going their way, he sails right and in just to watch the fox strike its colors, and because he's the closest ship, he immediately sends a boat over to claim her as a prize, which
probably did not do much to endear manley to mcneil. manley gets captured, and mcneil cruise,later in this that once manley is paroled and comes back, he tells an entirely different story. popular inore boston. he was one of washington's early heroes, and mcneil is pretty much drummed out of the navy, and they both wind up saving us privateers, but there was a lot of give and take. not every captain liked the other captain. had few friends. barry did. there's a wonderful story after he has been wounded in a battle and is recuperating in boston went up comes john paul jones, who has been given command of a ship of the line on the stocks of new england, and they have this very delightful breakfast together. we know most about it because jones writes a long letter to barry after the breakfast, but what barry does not say is that
james nicholson has written him a letter from philadelphia saying that jones is campaigning should be an admiral and doing this and that, and i told the cubs but if you are making jones and admiral, you should make , which isadmiral, too probably not true. barry never says anything to jones, but by the time jones writes the letter, he has learned that nicholson has written this letter and thanks barry for not giving in any credit. they were pretty interesting characters. >> [inaudible] navyrole did the american play then? a significant role? >> pretty much none. it was strictly the french navy. by then, the continental devi -- navy is down to five or six ships, and they were all elsewhere. >> [inaudible]
dragged on and on and on. >> absolutely. there's points -- we know better with the civil war because of the documentation of it. when petersburg falls, lee is still talking about just waging and washington had said the same thing. if the french and not coming to help, we will just go to, you know, the woods and harass them until they give up, but the navy really was not strong enough by then. >> in the british population at that point was unwilling to keep funding it as the years went on -- is that true? you can makenalogy of it, really, to me, especially at my age and growing up was the attitude the same with the allnam war when we were younger, and those who served bravely there, when they came back, were not being as well regarded, which is a tragedy, but where america was so gung ho end ofn the war, by the
the war, this is done. the british are feeling the same way. the wig party -- the whig party and edmund burke have been against it from the beginning, and they railed about it, but so did the british press. they were very -- we have msnbc and fox news. you had "the london public advertiser." they are both mouthing off what side they are asked to where things are. in fact, the treatment of reddish captives by -- british captives by barry and jones gets commented upon in the british press. that the americans are taking much better care of our guys than we have been with them, and that again, went a long way towards getting the war to an end. any other questions? thank you all very much for coming. have a good evening. [applause]
>> you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for information on our schedule, upcoming programs, and keep up with the latest history news. a this haunting likeness of partly dressed man, likened by some to a sold the parting the body, is the product of the women's titanic memorial association. over 1500 lives were lost when hms titanic went to the bottom after north atlantic striking an iceberg on the night of april 14, 1912. ship's female passengers perished, a number that would have been even higher but for numbers of men who yielded seats on the doomed liner possible fully inadequate lifeboats. that's why the women's titanic memorial is exquisitely
dedicated to the men of the titanic, over 3/4 of whom never reach the atlantic. the 13-foot-figure of sacrifice is itself the creation of a female sculptor and patron of the arts. ironically, gertrude vanderbilt whitney is probably most member today as the founder -- less remembered today as the founder of whitney's museum of art that she is for her leading role in the sensational child custody case involving her ten-year old niece gloria. in a strange twist of fate, mrs. whitney lost her brother out for it in another tragedy at sea when a german u-boat in may 1915 sack passenger ship lusitania off the coast of ireland. helen taft,er, whose husband had been president at the time of the titanic disaster, officially unveiled the cross-like titanic memorial located in washington's rock creek parkway.
carved from a single block of red granite, it is flanked by an elaborate stone bench, attributed to henry bank in -- lincolnesigner of the memorial. in >> today it stands close to the waterfront. the trevilian station battle. confederater railroad junctions. how the choices led to the decisive victory.